There Might Be A Better Way To Batch Your Tasks…

There Might Be A Better Way To Batch Your Tasks…

Last week we looked at how we can block out time in our week to make sure we are getting the most of our time. This week, I’m going to be telling you about how we can batch your tasks for EVEN MORE productivity. I know, it sounds extreme. It’s not. It’s actually quite smart! As a virtual assistant, I use this technique every single day of my life.

Batching means grouping tasks. But the killer question is, HOW do you batch them? The obvious solution may be to batch them according to what you need to do – for example, do all the emails together. It is an entirely valid way to do it, but I’m going to suggest a few different ways to give you inspiration.

Batching by Context

This is something I do when working on specific clients. I have one client who has a very ‘Mean Girls’esque feeling to their business, and I find that when I am working on something for her, it is very difficult to work on something else in the middle because I need to summon up my inner Regina George. Because I have such a diverse range of client, this strategy works well for my work day. I have clients across education, beauty, professional services and the charity sector, and each of these has a very different feel to the next, and so it makes sense to batch tasks according to the company, to keep my mindset in with the vibe of the business.

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Batching by Task

When it comes to grouping by task, I recommend focusing on one client or context. For example, if you have a lot of emails to send across three or four different contexts (personal, family, work, side hustle), I do not recommend clumping these all together, because it just gets too confusing. You don’t want to email your child’s teacher about the latest offer at your business by accident.

Then, you should sort your tasks for that client of context by category. For me, I have a range of tasks I do, and I sort my tasks like this:

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This enables me to stay in one software item at a time, with minimal flicking between screens. Screen switching is a huge time consumer. Consider how many times you do it in a day. Unless you have a multi-monitor set up, I imagine this will be a lot!

Batching by Time

One of my top tips is, if it takes less than one minute, do it NOW! But if you have a LOT of 1 minute tasks that will mean stopping what you are doing, you can batch these together.

Here are the time categories I group by:

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I have one hour per day which I protect for admin. In this hour, I’ll first tackle all the one minute or less tasks, then the tasks that take 1-5 minutes. Then, if I have finished them all, I’ll look at how long I have left, and choose a task from the list that closest fits that time.

Batching by Energy Levels

Having an intuitive knowledge of my energy levels, I know that there are certain times of day where actually, I should not be doing certain tasks. The first hour and last hour of the day, for example, are really bad for me. My focus is at its best between 8am and 3pm. In addition to this, I am human and sometimes I’m tired or lacking mojo. On days like this, I divide my list as follows:

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Some tasks, such as things relating to my charity, require me to be strong and boundaried. If I’m feeling ‘meh’, I won’t put these tasks on my list. Do you think the Queen does things she hasn’t the energy for? NO. No, she does not. Other things require me to be compassionate – which can be quite emotionally exhausting. I will only schedule one of these slots every few days to prevent emotional burnout, and I will schedule self care for the 30 minutes immediately after.

If I am aware my brain is not able to focus, I’ll put my shallow tasks into a block and go through them. Shallow tasks are things such as simple emails, adding formatting to documents, scheduling social media posts and diary management, and tasks like this are usually ‘quick wins’, which I personally find very gratifying. One bonus of grouping the tasks this way is that if often drives me back into focus so I can follow it up with a deep task, such as proofreading.

The final way I will sometimes group tasks is by high/low energy. I also often subdivide these into impact in a graph like this:

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I will then gauge my energy levels, and start with the high impact tasks for that category, and follow it up with the low impact tasks. Need a quick win? Go for low energy/high impact.

The Bottom Line

All of these methods are entirely valid, and you may vary which one you use from one day to the next. The important thing is choosing a system that works for you. If you aren’t sure, you can book a productivity consultation with me to discuss your needs in more depth.

For more tips and advice on how to become more productive, sign up to my newsletter, which will give you lifetime access to my range of free printables!

Why Should You Hire ME Anyway?

Why Should You Hire ME Anyway?

I often joke that I need a PA for all my community work, because it gets incredibly busy and lately, it is taking over my life. But honestly, what would I use a PA for? I have the skillset myself. But when you’re running a business, sometimes there isn’t enough time to fit everything in…

People use me for all sorts of reasons.

The thing is, when you’re running multiple enterprises at once, as many of us are, you will eventually find that the to-do list never ends, and delegating at least part of it can make a huge difference.

One of my favourite things to do is social media posting – for other people. My own social media often goes to the bottom of the pile, because I’m so busy doing everyone else’s. My business comes first and, if my social media goes to pot, the world won’t end, because I have plenty of work in for just me. Unfortunately for most companies, a strong social media presence is the crux of getting work in. Today I’ve planned a week of social media, including writing the copy and designing the graphics.

I also enjoy creating beautiful documents, whether they are for administrative purposes, training courses, or even for sale. One of my favourite products to work on was for the rebrand of the Lashloft Training Courses and salon administration documents. No matter where you look, you see the striking branding of Lashloft, with a clear and professional format.

Delegating means more time for you.

Imagine this: you have a list of things that, if you start them at 9am, will last you until 9pm. If you could delegate just 3 hours of those tasks to a professional, you’ll have more time to spend with your family, friends, pets, whoever. It allows for self care, whether that is a nice toasty bath or an hour reading that book you’ve been meaning to delve into. You might want to make hot chocolates in travel mugs and go for an evening stroll at the beach with the kids. With someone like me on your team, this is possible.

A professional VA like myself can do everything you would do, but potentially better, quicker, and in a more organised way, creating systems as they go so you can find and access everything as needed. Because we do this all day every day, we learn tips, tricks and hacks to help us get through the workload in the most productive way.

I get to know your brand.

For every brand I work with, I have a little routine for getting into mindset depending on the message the brand wants to create.

One brand I work with has a nurturing, patient nature. To get into mindset for their work, I have a coffee and a biscuit and put on an acoustic playlist to help me relax into their brand.

Another brand I work with is very glamorous and girly, and so at the start of a full day I put the movie Mean Girls on my TV in the background. I might also stick on a very ‘boss babe’ playlist with lots of Rihanna, BeyoncĂ© and Lizzo.

It might sound like I’m creating distractions, but I am in fact creating an atmosphere which takes me to a new place. I work from home, and so I don’t have the office dynamics to work with. Instead I create them myself (without any rivalry or background slackers to get on my nerves!).

I make you look good.

Most of the brands I work with don’t tell anyone they use a VA. And why should they? I’m getting paid to do this work. It’s not like Microsoft thanks the custodian! Do you think Richard Branson tells the world exactly what his secretary does to support his international enterprise? Of course not.

For small businesses, customers are attracted to professionalism. A VA can schedule meetings and take care of the admin, answer calls, social media messages and emails autonomously, making it appear that the message came from you, and do things in a timelier manner than you may be able to. If you’re a personal trainer out there doing 1:1 sessions, that hour or two it might take you to respond to a message could be the difference between having that client, and losing them to a competitor.

I can handle all of that and more, without a soul knowing, giving the impression that you are ultra professional, serious about your business, and that you’re running an organised operation.

For more information on how I can help you, please email me at stephaniewardofficial@gmail.com or find me on social media – @stephanieward.va and I will be only too happy to consult on what I’ll be able to offer you.

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